Last Sunday I laced up my sneakers and joined over 30,000 over people and participated in the Army Ten Miler. My friend and I took the metro in the dark. When we exited, we got to watch the sun come up over the Pentagon. It was such a beautiful site. We were quickly overwhelmed with how many people who were joining us. It's funny you can say over 30,000 people out loud and not really comprehend how many people that really is until your running with them.
All of my friends were in different starting corrals. I learned that you can go back corral but not forward. By the time I discovered this, I had parted ways with all of them and made new friends in my section. I was welcomed with opened arms and was given a few very friendly tips. I learned you make quick friends at the ATM. Everyone is so excited to be there.
I have never been a part of something so big and it was just awesome!! My favorite part of the ATM came when the national anthem was performed. I was standing there among over 30,000 people, the vast majority of them were strangers to me. We were all there for the same reason. We were all patriotic Americans running to support something. When our nation's song started you could have heard a pin drop and I was extremely proud to witness that. It was a great moment to bare witness too.
I ran for Team Operation Ward 57. Many people were running for Team Fisher House, Aleethia and numerous other amazing non-profits that support wounded warriors like my husband. I happily ran showing off my "The Fight for the Wounded Never Ends" shirt. I had several people pat me on the back and tell me how much they loved my shirt.
I loved seeing all the TAPS shirts, but I honestly was afraid that I might recognize the faces of their fallen they were honoring. We know so many who did not come back and their faces are in my heart everyday. I tried not to look too close at the shirts that ran by because I knew I would cry. I got choked up many times thinking about all the soldiers we have lost.
I ran alone for the first five miles. Eventually I caught up to an old friend and then another mile later I caught up to my fellow wounded warrior wives. I may have started that race alone, but I was never ever alone. I was surrounded by amazing Americans and I was honored to share their company.
I finished the ATM in 2:36, which was great for my first attempt. I did stop at the 9 1/2 mile mark because my Mom had flown up from Tennessee to see me participate in the ATM. I took a slight detour to sneak in a Mom hug. It was great to have her there to support me.
I crossed the finish line with a fellow wounded warrior wife. She and I had been training for months. It was great to cross that line together. We had the same thoughts as we finished.....FOOD....WATER....stat.
My legs and feet hurt the days following the ATM, but I have to admit it was worth every step. I did it, I completed the Army Ten Miler. I was not bussed to the finish line. I earned my coin by walking and running every step and that afternoon I had the sore feet to prove it. I may not have the most fabulous time, but I finished it. I hope this is my first ATM. I hope I have started a new family tradition.